Sunday mornings in our home are more often than not, a blessed atmosphere as we quietly reflect and prepare for worship.
This past Sunday was spent with me alone fighting 3 girls over spring/winter shoes. It was the first warm Sunday we've had since Spring began and everyone wanted to wear sandals. Last years sandals don't fit the same girl this year and so we began our tradition of 'handing down' shoes. Which is never a good thing to do on a Sunday morning! My girls have begun to grow on different scales and this process doesn't always work as I would like it to. Brooklyn's foot is way bigger than Faith's, so Brooklyn's last years shoes don't quite work for Faith this Spring. Although she tries to convince me otherwise and walks around the house like Bozo the Clown, upset if I say no. No one was happy to wear winter boots with their new spring dresses Mimi brought. Attitudes were terrible. Mine was the worst.
We have began two morning services at the church in Braga, so Michael and usually one girl leave much earlier than than the rest of us as we meet him there for Sunday School and the later worship service. He normally carries one of the older girls with him and that means the chosen girl dresses herself and styles their own hair because I'm still in bed.
hmmm...hair.....that's a touchy subject with me....that's an area I'm having a hard time releasing responsibility of. I want them to always have beautiful hair.
So when I arrive at Sunday school to find my 9 or 10 year daughter smiling brightly at me, as she has already been in one worship service, only to find her hair has a huge rats nest and the hair bow she chose does not match her outfit, I immediately begin flinging her head around as I try desperately to smooth out the nest and fuss about how she must have gotten dressed in the dark. I continue to really critize as I comment on how she must not have washed her hair well in the shower the night before because it still looks greasy.
She then walks away defeated, and I walk the other way frustrated and embarrassed. Surely folks must think I don't care about the appearance of my children.
My Mom left last week and on her bedside table she left a small devotional magazine she brought with her form the States. I've been devouring the devotions in it as I am reminded how badly I miss the abundance of great study helps in America.
One story, well there were several, but one specifically left me in tears, praying to God for help and asking forgiveness.
My critical spirit has hurt my children.
"I'm so concerned about being right. I'm more picky than positive and I have an overwhelming urge to make a mountain out of a molehill. Sadly, kids in my house have had a tough gig." -Melinda Means, author
That's me...exactly. To a 'T'!!
I even hear myself talking when one of my girls criticises another. Telling her to "stand up straight, and suck it in". "Can't you learn to sweep correctly?!" "Your teeth look terrible! Go brush them!"
These are my critical words that have found resting places in my daughter's hearts.
"I'm often quite right about my kids' shortcomings. However, the bottom line is this: Constant criticism hinders intimacy. My stubborn insistence to always be right instead of choosing my battles, was sabotaging my goal of creating a home environment of openness, grace and affection." - Melanie Means, author
I've always been so concerned about how folks viewed me. I wanted to make sure they thought I had 'everything together'. That I made 'mothering 5 young children look easy'. These type of comments from friends and even strangers made my day.....but it was at my childrens' expense.
My preferences are causing divisions. Preferences are usually what causes criticism. Preferences aren't worth pushing my children away.
(I prefer Faith not wear her headband the way she always does, and I'm constantly on her about the "proper way to wear a headband". As if I'm the headband creator!! Geeze...who do I think I am?! She loves headbands, but has begun to not wear them as often because she can "never wear them right" she's told me.)
Bless her heart....Lord help me.
Now.....with God's help and much prayer, I will no longer be so concerned about myself or about what others think, and more concerned about building lasting, intimate relationships with my children. Relationships that will show God's grace and help to build good, strong character in them...and in me.
I have chosen to be more positive and much less critical.
Because criticism hinders intimacy.